As part of our ongoing series in educational posts and discussion, this blog is looking at the serious issue of improving school attendance, as well as how to deal with the problem; overcrowding. There are positives to be taken from either issue and the post includes some ideas on how to solve overcrowding.
Improving Student Attendance Through Design & Refurbishment
What’s The Issue?
There are a host of reasons why attendance may be falling amongst your cohort of students. Teaching and learning related reasons are understandably most impactful; but the quality of the building and learning environment can have an effect too.
This can happen in two ways; when it comes to choosing a place of study, if your facilities are lacking compared to your competition, this could be the reason you are seeing overall student numbers fall. Secondly, particularly for Further Education establishments, if the environment is too uncomfortable for a pleasant learning experience, this can often lead post-compulsory students to pick and choose whether to attend.
Building on the second point, even if they do attend regularly thanks to the quality of teaching on offer; the poor quality of facilities will be passed on to younger students and this can influence them into studying elsewhere.
The quality of your building’s design can also impact student behaviour, so this is worth bearing in mind too as there is a knock-on effect into attendance levels.
How It Can Be Resolved
It’s a common misconception that a refurbishment is actually just as expensive as building something new. It’s also common to think that refurbishments are limited in what they can actually change, but this is incorrect.
There are different levels of refurbishment and they can range from a simple cosmetic refresh to a wholesale upgrading of infrastructure which refurbishes everything from heating systems to classroom furniture.
Whichever level your educational building needs, it can be a great way of improving attendance.
Students and parents will be thrilled to see their establishment willing to invest in an improved work environment. It builds faith and confidence, resulting in a healthier attitude amongst your student body, which is also compounded by a renewed enthusiasm amongst teaching staff. Also, young-adults and teenagers can be proud to study at a shiny, upgraded building, as opposed to the old, drafty place across town.
Things that can be implemented to improve attendance through a refurbishment are; an upgrade to student common areas (comfier furniture, more pleasant decorations and finishes, interesting artwork or interactive features), improved ICT services, impressive furniture and upgraded classroom fixtures.
Easing Overcrowding Through Refurbishment
It Is Possible
Another myth that we often come across is that the only way to ease overcrowding in a school or college is to build more classroom buildings. Or maybe use unsightly and uncomfortable “temporary” classrooms. But this is false.
You can ease overcrowding by altering the internal layout of your building, repositioning walls makes more effective use of your building footprint. In short, if your Humanities department is blossoming but the Science wing is sitting half-empty, there is no need to study the Arts in a laboratory. A simple alteration of the internal walls and classroom furniture can repurpose classrooms to make them more suitable for what your students are interested in studying.
Space Planning Is An Option
A less extensive form of refurbishment will be to undertake a review of space planning within your building. Making an unqualified assessment of how many chairs and desks can fit inside a classroom can leave you in breach of regulations and create an unproductive workspace.
A proper interior design team can perform a thorough space planning exercise on your building and source or suggest new types of furniture, which can make the best use of your space. For example, installing new storage facilities in communal areas can free up additional classroom space, meaning there is extra room for the increased number of students.
Ease Overcrowding Outside The Classroom
Outside of lessons, overcrowding can be a safety and tardiness issue. If negotiating the building’s halls and corridors and passageways is a chore between lessons, or getting a seat in the canteen is an impossibility, space planning and redesigning the layout can help once again.
This negates the need to build any new buildings and a proper reorganisation and refurbishments of the internals of your building allows staff and students to operate comfortably. And this helps improve morale of the whole school.
In the end, this helps maximise student progress and learning, which is the ultimate aim. Learning can’t be improved through a refurbishment on its own, as you still need effective teaching; but ignoring the idea of a refurbishment can certainly undermine even the most effective teaching and cause attendance issues.